The funny thing is, if you had asked me back in May before school let out, I would've had to admit that while summer is my favorite season, I was worried about filling the wide open space of seemingly endless days with my kids signed up for very few organized activities. How was I going to keep them entertained even more hours of the day without going crazy? However, I soon realized the simple reality was that in my case, given my kids' 2013-14 school schedules (or lack thereof, for Waylon), school wasn't providing me any reprieve in the childcare department, but it sure was adding a lot of hassle in the morning routine, bundling, buckling, driving, drop-off, pick-up, bathing, and bedtime departments. Turns out it was a net negative for me in terms of total stress. (I know, it's not all about me. I'm all for education and socialization, don't get me wrong.) The point is, right now, for our family, our summer "schedule" is way better than the alternative.
I titled this post as I did, because the beauty of summer is that there is no such thing as a truly "typical" day here. In any given week, my ideal schedule is an alternating mix of unplanned days at home and big city adventures. Throw in a few house guests, occasional pool visitors, and a party or two or three (over the course of the summer), and we're all set.
A few things I'd like to record for posterity: (1) the children would be happy to go nowhere, ever, and do nothing, ever, besides whatever they feel like entertaining themselves with at home; (2) I lose my ever-loving mind after a maximum of two days of that; (3) the children pretty much stink at doing errands, so much so that it's usually just not worth it to bother. Grocery shopping and Target runs have been moved to nights and weekends indefinitely, and for certain items, Amazon Prime shipping has become a good friend of mine. This system is a minor inconvenience but usually causes me less pain than taking all 3 kids on errands, which results in a combination of complaining, whining, and mild misbehavior in stores. (To clarify, they're not monsters or throwing tantrums. They'd just really rather not go, and it often feels like herding cats with a whole lot of irritated motherly instructions once we're out there.) I guess they've "won" this battle for now (nothing ever stays the same for long), but on the upside, I think it saves us a little money. Since errands with the kids are only done when critically necessary, I'm never out there using shopping as a way to pass time; (4) despite the kids' preference for never going anywhere, they are always up for an adventure once it's been announced. So, don't think I'm dragging them unwillingly when you see pictures of their smiling faces at the beach, Millenium Park, or whatever other cultural attraction I've decided to expose them to. They'll thank me one day, right? Ha!
|Our daily dry erase board. This is my definition of structure right now. It's flexible and always subject to revision.|
For the hell of it, I decided one day a while back to write down the events of our day as it unfolded. This was a day when we had nowhere to be and nothing to do: the kids' favorite kind. I thought some of you might get a kick out of seeing both how creative kids can be, as well as how busy an un-busy day can be. (Keep in mind that I wasn't writing down any of the other stuff I was trying to accomplish in the background, like cooking, dishes, or laundry. Sometimes it's hard to get much else done, and there's a reason the place looks like a wreck at the end of the day.) Anyway, I didn't tell the kids I was doing this or attempt to influence their choices, I just wrote some stuff down.
This list begins as soon as breakfast ended and the kids were dressed:
-play on swingset
-play with dolls, get out 8 different cups of water for the dolls
-play a match of "World Cup" soccer in front yard
-set up teepee in front yard
|My view of the teepee action from our family room window sill.|
|The kids' view of more awesome construction site action next door.|
-have meltdown about losing to mom in "unfair" soccer match. Ensuing discussion about fairness, practice, letting people win, not being a sore loser, not being a gloating winner, blah, blah, blah occurs. No idea if anyone learned anything.
-play with carseat in front yard
-discover slug. Let slug crawl on arms and take pictures with slug
-pull weeds from potted fairy garden
-get out buckets and shovels to dig for worms
-clean disgusting bathroom trashcan with dish soap, hose, and scrubber
-use hose to make mud to enhance digging for worms project
-Georgia gives up on worms, changes clothes
-take small table to backyard to draw (Georgia) while June and Waylon continue digging
-help mom dig up broccoli and plant eggplant in garden
-EPIC meltdown regarding failure of "Rube Goldberg"-esque design implementation in dirt due to interference of little brother. [Note: I did not handle this well, either. It was almost lunchtime, and I know that had a lot to do with it.]
-lunch is served. During lunch conduct meeting of sorts to discuss how to better handle our frustrations next time. No idea if anyone learned anything.
-clean buckets and shovels with hose
-Georgia swims while June buries Waylon in a giant container of stuffed animals
-June and Waylon decide to come swim
-put Waylon down for a nap
-Georgia practices violin while June entertains herself making a love letter. I clean the garage.
-our planned activity of writing together in some way, shape or form during "quiet time" is scrapped because I don't like interrupting one type of fun for another unless I have to. Girls are drawing in the backyard at a table and then in the top of the swingset.
|Sweet! I didn't even have to get involved in the writing. I found this evidence of Georgia having tried to help June use the correct letters to go with the My Little Pony cutie marks she drew. : )|
-I am asked to set up a tent in the backyard "because we are Mary and Laura and the tent will look like a covered wagon"
-Georgia collects various snacks (with my permission) to take out to the tent
-Waylon wakes up and joins in
-"Mary and Laura" ask to swim in the "lake" (aka, pool). I make them pick up their room first.
-June reads a book on the kitchen floor buck naked while Georgia finishes cleaning and Waylon plays with a ball outside
-nakey swim time
At this point, I seem to have lost my last little scrap of paper, so I guess Joe showed up and we put those steaks on the grill. I wonder if anyone ever cleaned up the family room and playroom? ; )